not your granny’s Columbus Day…

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day

This article is excellent on the subject of Christopher Columbus and the “discovery of America.” It is well worth the read, and deserves an A+ for research and attribution, factual information based partially on bona fide original sources including Columbus’s own writing.

Bartolomé de Las Casas,  Dominican Friar and later Bishop, is the author of The Destruction of the Indies, which details the systematic horror brought to the Americas by Christopher Columbus.      De Las Casas is known as the Protector of the Indians, and was the Bishop of Chiapas, Mexico in the early sixteenth century.

My interest in this topic is the subject of the unpublished doctoral dissertation, which I spent ten years writing.   Unfortunately I did not complete the final draft, so it was never published.   However, before I die I hope to publish at least some of my work on my blog, at least.

Caribbean geography lesson…

Every now and then I like to get out a map and reassure myself that when not knowing the location of Yemen, or Utah, or Antiqua (for example) all I have to do is look it up on a map. A paper map, preferably, but sometimes even an online map will do.

So I wanted to see if Puerto Rico was really far out in the middle of the ocean someplace, or, as I suspected…in the Caribbean. So I did a search “Puerto Rico” and Bing zeroed in on a nice map of the island, in great detail of cities and even roads and topographical details like mountains. Zooming out to get the big picture…including the Pacific Ocean and all of Russia…the exact location of Puerto Rico became instantly remembered.

Looking Southward, from Florida, the island is sort of beyond Cuba, north of Venezuela, and in a line with other islands and chains of islands in the Caribbean, forming a line of defense reinforced by territories possessed by friendly allies: the French, Dutch, and British. This was perfect—especially back in the days of the conquest by Spain of the New World.

Actually the United States was interested in keeping the Spanish at bay as much as possible, while maintaining a strategic position of buffering between the British (our best friends forever) and “other” European or South American nations from getting any ideas. Or Japan…or anyone else.

The last good-size war the U.S. had with Spain was the Spanish-American War, which effectively booted the Spanish out of the area and declared US hegemony in the close-in islands, including Puerto Rico. It is true that the U.S. had a good line of defense in the Caribbean, and although U.S.-Cuban relations suffered during the Cold War…to the point where until the Cubans would acquiesce in being beaten by the U.S. Embargo, which effectively put Cuba and the Castro Dictatorship in its place as an oppressed and bullied island which “refused to straighten out” and endured sixty years or so of hardship and political hassles because of it.

At the end of the Spanish-American War in 1899, part of the spoils agreed on by the two nations was the prize of Puerto Rico…ceded to the U.S. by Spain. One of the results was that the Spanish-speaking citizens were required to speak and use English-only.

Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, and thus Puerto Rican citizens are citizens of the United States, and are entitled to vote in U.S. elections…except for the office of President. They elect representatives to the U.S. Congress, who are on the same basis as reps and Senators from the 50 other states.

One difficult hang-over from the early 20th Century is THE JONES LAW, which forbids Puerto Rico to receive shipments of any materials or products from any sources except on officially sanctioned United States registered Ships. The result of this is that now that Hurricane Maria has devastated the Puerto Rican island, the Jones Law limits what foreign aid they can receive. The U.S. Congress has the power to rescind or modify the law…but has so far declined. It may be nteresting to note that the Jones Law has been suspended in other U.S. ports under emergencies created by Hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida, as well as other U.S. controlled islands in the Caribbean.

The U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort has, as of this Wednesday morning, been sent to Puerto Rico. The reasons for the delay apparently have been worked out, especially the excuse of the ship being “too big to park in the harbor…” and the hospital ship will anchor off-shore and apparently transfer patients from the mainland of the island by helicopter.

https://www.bing.com/maps?&ty=18&q=Puerto%20Rico&vdpid=202&mb=19.029888040912922~-69.22080993652341~17.464867724672842~-64.03526306152341&ppois=18.2491397857666_-66.6280364990234_Puerto%20Rico_~&cp=18.2491397857666~-66.6280364990234&v=2&sV=1&style=r&trfc=&lvl=7

Sticks and Stones and “Dotards”

Re the sticks-and-stones contest, following the old adage that “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”      Remember when some kid would spew off a string of bad words and mean but innocuous insults, and Mom or Grandma would sooth hurt feelings with the little rhyme…which in effect meant “if some kid hits you let me know, but if he calls you a bad name just laugh it off.”   Now like as not she might look around for someone to sue.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il  has resurrected a good old  English word to toss at Donald Trump in insult: “dotard,” an Old-English word from the 14th Century. This cool new word, according to the excited media,  spurred linguists and English teachers all over the world to research the word—dotard.

Not that the word “dotard” is especially archaic, not to disappoint media writers that want to insinuate that Kim Jong-Il may be more knowledgeable than Donald Trump.  Within arms reach I find a variety of dictionaries, including a nifty little volume called New Oxford Spelling Dictionary:  The Writers’ and Editors’ Guide to Spelling and Word Division.  Edited by Maurice Waite, published by Oxford University Press, 2014.*

There, right in alphabetical order between the words “dotage” and “dot-com” is— “dotard,”   pronounced to rhyme with soldered, watered.    The etymology is from the same as:  doting,  one-who-dotes…as in a doting-grandfather.

It was a fun image to imagine the North Korean leader poring over his archaic English dictionaries searching for insults.

  • The most recent Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2004) also features the word “dotard” right in proper order.

 

 

Let’s not all jump to conclusions about Venezuela….wagging the dog

Desperate for red herrings and issues to change the subject of our president’s involvement with Russia, the pending sword swinging over the heads at the White House wielded by special investigators, and last but not least the raging chaos over racism and white supremacy—now the administration has raided the good old topic of raiding South America.

Venezuela has long been a target for United States attention…OIL…is the reason.  Human rights and that kind of stuff is always secondary.

The Venezuelan government has the support of Bolivia, Cuba, China and Russia, among others.       Colombia…no.    This is not an exhaustive list….

The main reason these countries do not want us down there snooping around (as if the CIA et al have been ignoring the southern hemisphere.

Here’s a couple of research points:

Organization of American States (OAS)
Council of the Americas
Summit of the Americas

It appears that the same old-same old — favorite whipping-boy is any country in Latin America— and Venezuela has been the target of our government for years through several administrations.    Trump didn’t invent the problem, but his administration obviously intends to make Venezuela  a very good target to get attention off of the Russians et al, and the pending explosion in our government.

Please don’t everybody jump on the bandwagon.   Misinformation is the bread-n-butter of foreign relations.

There will be floods of misinformation coming out of Venezuela!

 

 

 

 

 

Of Statues and Soldiers…

Why are angry mobs allowed to destroy Civil War statues?      If they have to be taken down, properly and carefully by local government authorities—why not store them temporarily at a museum or some other place appropriate.     Smashing them to rubble is foolish…no, let me say stupid…and knee-jerk reactions to political correctness.   Gratuitous pandering, perhaps.

Except for one thing—there seems to be NO thought or reasoning to these actions, only public showing-off.       This kind of destruction of public property is against the law, for one thing, and morally wrong for a few hot-heads to decide for entire communities that historic statues need to be not only removed…but demolished.

Most villages and towns have a statue of a civil war soldier in its town park, or round-about in the highway, or city hall.     The statue stands proudly with his rifle, standing vigil of pride and gratitude to the soldiers who died fighting for their side in the Civil War.     North of the Mason-Dixon Line, approximate borders between states (Ohio and Pennsylvania in the North, Kentucky and West Virginia, etc. in the South.

It boggles the mind thinking about the problems involved in removing Southern statues…and by extension perhaps Northern statues as well?   That action would likely cause great unrest, being that the Union troops were on the winning side, therefore perceived to be the “right” side.     The fact is that the Civil War, was fought over state’s rights to maintain slavery….simplified, but that’s how it was…hyperbole and “regional history” aside.

The Generals and other high-ranking bigshots are usually the ones mortalized in statues:  the southern generals Robert E. Lee,  Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson,  James Longstreet…etc., etc., etc.     But the rank-n-file soldiers were young volunteers, then draftees, pressed into service by their respective sides, especially in the latter years of the war.  They had    little choice, and high-minded rhetoric about noble causes and patriotic duty hardly affected the lowest level Johnny Reb…who went to war because he had to.

 

 

Pershing at the Front (by poet Arthur Guiterman) a student recitation favorite…

Back in the day students were required to memorize poems and recite them in class.  For most the process was torture—memorizing a poem from a list of “suggested” poems, working up the nerve to stand up in front of the class for the recitation, and enduring the embarrassment from  snickers of buddies in the audience.

Here’s one that was a favorite of the day, passed around on typewritten and mimeographed “ditto machine” purple-ink copies.     It is appropriate now, among all this false rhetoric about General Pershing, who was a World War I American general, with a long and distinguished reputation as a good, tough cookie among military Historians.

It’s a great poem…rhythm and meter perfect in my book, and well worth reading out loud and all the way through.     Thanks to the folks at holyjoe.org\guiter8.htm for posting it on their site.

Pershing at the Front

      by

Arthur Guiterman

    (1871-1943)

The General came in a new tin hat
To the shell-torn front where the war was at;
With a faithful Aide at his good right hand
He made his way toward No Man’s Land,
And a tough Top Sergeant there they found,
And a Captain, too, to show them round.

Threading the ditch, their heads bent low,
Toward the lines of the watchful foe
They came through the murk and the powder stench
Till the Sergeant whispered, “Third-line trench!”
And the Captain whispered, “Third-line trench!”
And the Aide repeated, “Third-line trench!”
And Pershing answered- not in French-
“Yes, I see it. Third-line trench.”

Again they marched with wary tread,
Following on where the Sergeant led
Through the wet and the muck as well,
Till they came to another parallel.
They halted there in the mud and drench,
And the Sergeant whispered, “Second-line trench!”
And the Captain whispered, “Second-line trench!”
And the Aide repeated, “Second-line trench!”
And Pershing nodded: “Second-line trench!”

Yet on they went through mire like pitch
Till they came to a fine and spacious ditch
Well camouflaged from planes and Zeps
Where soldiers stood on firing steps
And a Major sat on a wooden bench;
And the Sergeant whispered, “First-line trench!”
And the Captain whispered, “First-line trench!”
And the Aide repeated, “First-line trench!”
And Pershing whispered, “Yes, I see.
How far off is the enemy?”
And the faithful Aide he asked, asked he,
“How far off is the enemy?”
And the Captain breathed in a softer key,
“How far off is the enemy?”

The silence lay in heaps and piles
And the Sergeant whispered, “Just three miles.”
And the Captain whispered, “Just three miles.”
And the Aide repeated, “Just three miles.”
“Just three miles!” the General swore,
“What in the heck are we whispering for?”
And the faithful Aide the message bore,
“What in the heck are we whispering for?”
And the Captain said in a gentle roar,
“What in the heck are we whispering for?”
“Whispering for?” the echo rolled;
And the Sergeant whispered, “I have a cold.”

 


Home> Hobbies> Poetry> Archive> Guiterman

Johnson’s Island, Confederate officers prison on Lake Erie, Ohio (Part Two)

(all photos on this page © Sometimes, 2017)   These photos were taken in May 1981 by Bob Dreger, my late husband.

The island prison housed Confederate military officers who were originally  captured during Civil War battles, and imprisoned  at Camp Chase, Columbus Ohio.   The object was to separate the officers from the rank-and-file soldiers and house them in the Northern prison where they remained until the end of the Civil War in 1865, or their death, which ever came first.    Over two hundred of them remain there, in their graves, to this day.

There is more to come from SOMETIMES, so please check back for more information about Johnson’s Island.     (I would continue now, but I have a lunch date with my best friend where we will fight the Civil War again.   We are on the same side…North, anti-Slavery, but present upheaval over Civil War statues opens up new debate across our nation—as if we don’t have plenty to debate! 🙂   For what it’s worth, this on-going perennial battle never dies.

 

 

Johnson’s Island confederate cemetery on Lake Erie, Ohio….photos of Southern soldier statue (Part One)

Here are two photos of the statue at Johnson’s Island, Ohio, taken by Bob Dreger in 1981.   The cemetery is a protected U.S. site, where more than two hundred Confederate military officers are buried.    I do need to clarify that Bob Dreger was the photographer, in 1981.  The copyright  is ©Sometimes, 2017.

This island is far North, half way to Canada.   It was important because all of the prisoners were Confederate military officers (Lieutenant and higher) who were separated from the rank-and-file soldiers incarcerated at Camp Chase, Ohio, and transferred to Johnson’s Island.

Later today I will try to post several more photos from this same batch.

This is the first part of this post on SOMETIMES, photos of the statue itself, including the pedestal, or base, which clearly explains the presence of a Southern monument this far North.   Johnson’s Island is located off of Sandusky, Ohio, in Lake Erie.   The island itself is privately owned, with controlled access.     Visitors to the federal cemetery do have access to the cemetery grounds, however.

PICT0021.JPG close good statue
U.S.Civil War. Statue of Confederate Soldier, at Johnson’s Island, Ohio. Photo by Bob Dreger, ©Sometimes, 2017
PICT0011.JPG base good
Base of Confederate Soldier statue on Johnson’s Island, Ohio, Civil War Prison. ©photo by Bob Dreger, Sometimes 2017)

the crisis d’jour

As if it wasn’t near perfect…
now here’s just what was lacking—
a beautiful woman spy
(er…excuse me…lawyer)
of course she has official backing.

The question that begs
to be thoroughly scrutinized:
were these Yankees duped
by nefarious, erstwhile  spies…
or are they just stupid?

 

New Leaf…stay tuned

OK.     Enough time has been wasted on the agonizing and agonistic misadventures of the United States Government (or lack thereof.)    I do hope to live long enough to ingrain some of the History of the World Under Trump into my DNA.   Right, I’m not even sure that is possible, about the DNA that is, but the truth is that until about twenty years ago I was not even aware of such a thing.       Science was never my bag,  although my interests and obsessions lie as much with clouds and rocks, bugs and sea creatures, as any one.

A basic interest in Geneology is in fact part of my basic make-up, due largely if not mainly to my Dad’s Mom, my Grandmother Lillian Turney Piper.    The font of knowledge or awareness of our family origins was argueably Lillian’s mother, Ann Avann Turney, of Tenterton, England.      OK, enough with the name-dropping.

We lived with the aforementioned forebears until I was three, so direct influence of Great Grandma Ann was by osmosis, so to speak.   She no doubt talked with me a lot about family affairs.  She also kept personal diaries after the age of about 80, when she was forced to curtail her former active social life and retreat to her home.   There she wrote her faithful diary entries…and discussed life and the world with visitors and family.    She read daily newspapers and other periodicals, and often wrote and received personal letters.

Visitors included members of social clubs, and church membership.   GG Ann was into all sorts of world activities, and wrote poetry.   Yes…a poet.   There was no WordPress then, of course, no computers or email.   The telephone was tied to the wall with a cord, and used only in turn with other people on the line (of course they listened in) so one just stated their business and got off the phone.    No texting…no cell phones.

GG Ann was keenly interested, and involved to whatever possible extent, in the WCTU: The Women’s Christian Temperance Union.   Their target—Alcohol.     I wish that here would follow exciting tales about women in long dresses and big fancy hats smashing bars and bottles with axes.   Or at least, rolling pins.     I have no details about GG Ann’s adventures with the WCTU, although there are extant examples of her original poetry and quotations clipped from newspapers.

To get back to my new pursuit…as I said earlier, my preoccupation with the United States government (or lack thereof,) only grows by the hour, and has no practical application to my personal blog.    My associates, followers, correspondents, critics…mostly are on the same political page wherever they are in our world.   Common sense and questionable judgement urges me to stay out of the comment sections of various venues, on the premise that everyone has an opinion and anything I say they will ignore, take offense, or call me names…which hurts my feelings.    Preaching to the choir has no direct result except winks and thumbs-ups…and arguing with the posters, trolls or not, is counterproductive and only makes me mad.

This morning a blogger pal reposted an article from a newspaper that mentions the Koch Brothers and hitherto emphasized family (group?) The Mercers.   I know who the Koch Brothers are…friends of Trump, I think…but the Mercers?   Hmmm, I have decided to find out who these people are, what they are up to, and—if they are related to ME.     GG Ann’s grandmother was a Mary Mercer… so that’s my new preoccupation.   (stay tuned)

 

 

Historiography at work

Historiography is the study of History.    It was one of my favorite mandatory seminars as a grad student at the University of Akron.

One of friends and cohorts here in Blog Land, raised a very interesting point in  a comment on how the Historians of 100 years from now would treat the scenario in rage now of the Great Republican Plan to Obliterate the Obama Presidency.    Obviously all of us reading this will have no interaction whatsoever in the future century.   Who knows how the History of our age will be preserved, or how it will be reported to future generations.    The History of the Present hasn’t happened yet.

The Trump-Obama factionalism is too multi-faceted to tackle here.   However, the question is a good one, and leads me to ponder the basic differences between Now and Then…meaning past and future coverage of historical events.     There can be two designations here: Paper and Digital.

The most glaring difference is that what was written, published, in real books is that they were permanent.   Not necessarily the absolute authoritative sources on a given subject, but through a sort of consensus of opinions and research, and yes credentials.   In order to reach a thesis statement for a given publication, the writer presented his or her own ideas….something new, an alternate position.   There are always at least two sides to any proposition.

Here is a proposal that when it comes to Digital History, that which is presented over the internet by countless diverse sources, the information comes across only as permanent as the print-out a student or proponent, or indeed, opposition commentator, understands—or prefers to present as Truth or Falsehood—to their respective readership at any given time.

Digital History is much easier to alter, re-write, or inadvertently  distort  because of its fluidity…never permanent, always subject to a myriad of changes.    We see reports on the internet news channels… a statement made by an anchor person on CNN or Fox, MSNBC, BBC…at a given hour—that never airs again.

No one in their right mind for long will be able to watch Cable News constantly to keep up absolutely on the stream of information.    Remember when the internet was actually referred to as the Information Highway?   That was back in the 1980s, when major newspapers made the change from individual typewriters to the chaotic stream of News-all-the-Time.   Up-to-date means “constantly changing,” which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

 

let’s not over-react (yeah, right…)

Scary news out of Virginia.    Too bad the shooter is dead…why is this always the case?   These people who kill other people are always a mystery, and it would be interesting and helpful to be able to hear what they have to say.   Normally such comments are suppressed, except for a shouted out inanity in a courtroom, or incoherent suicide note.

My old Journalist Hat comes out of the closet when some of these events occur, and too often the questions that I would ask… if I were doing the asking…never get asked.       What would these shooters say?    One would think that a perpetrator of such a criminal act albeit stupid and cruel,  probably pointless, would have something to say.    Oh, right, it is more than likely that if left to speak without restrictions…or to explain their motivation or explanation.

What goes through one’s mind when actually taking a rifle and shooting into an area of innocent people?     Is it madness that drives the crime?   Are they making a statement?   Thinking that they are proving a point?     Attempting to set the stage for some kind of mad-crowd riot?   Calling for confiscation of guns that kill people—or emphasizing the “right to bear arms?”

Unfortunately it is unlikely that we will ever know the shooter’s rationale for what he did this morning.   What we will hear, is speculation, interpretation, opinionated points of view…over and over.   The original account of what happened will be related in sound-bites and rambled on and on in talk shows, CNN Commenters assisting the rhetoric by presenting assorted factions’ “talking points” for incessant rehashing.      Sadly—the whole incident is like a  made-for-TV political presentation—complete with Party Politics, and frought with grandstanding and posturing.

This can’t be allowed to warp into a distraction from the investigations unfolding in Washington now.     How could it be more obvious that the honest and honorable committee members must put the Russia investigation on the fast track NOW.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mad Magazine revisited…the return of the spies and good old espionage tales

 

 

 

Image result for Spy vs Spy Cartoon Characters in public domain
Illustration is from a selection of Spy vs Spy images that are in the public domain.

 

Long ago and far away…in the scheme of my life…Mad Magazine was the favorite magazine for satire and farce, and making fun of the Cold War—which actually was not at all funny, and jokes about the Russians (called the Soviets then) were much in vogue.   The world being divided pretty much dominated by two camps: the United States and Russians.   Us and Them.   The rest of the world was either with us…or against us.

The Free World—in which the benevolence of the U.S. supervised and kindly contributed to the rest of the world.    Our motto: we will help you and give you goodies like weapons and allow a great measure of independence and sovereignty—as long as you do what we say.    That includes voting with the U.S. in world organizations, and supporting our extensive military bases in virtually every country in the world.      This has two major purposes: 1. holding strategic locations in the world from which the U.S. maintains control.   2. We will protect you from the enemy—which is namely: The Soviet Union.  The old USSR—behind the Iron Curtain.

And so the present situation unfolds…and the position of good old Uncle Sam deteriorates under this virtual siege by an unstable, unknowledgeable, poorly educated minority in the United States.

God knows where it will all end.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s nothing as grand as a royal wedding (a bit of British history)

http://healthskillet.com/stunning-photos-from-pippa-middletons-wedding/37/

 

One of my favorite bourgeoise extravaganzas has always been a Royal Wedding.      So when I followed the trail to a set of photos described as “photos you weren’t supposed to see.”     I usually do not like following the pointing arrows from photo to photo in this feature, but in spite of myself sometimes, they are hard to resist.

The Wedding of Pippa Middleton, who (for anyone stranded on the moon for the past few years)  is the sister of Princess Kate, wife of Prince William….who, in the scheme of things here is the son of the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles, grandson of the reigning Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.    Prince Charles is the heir-apparent to the British throne.

True, Pippa Middleton is not really a “royal,” nor is her new husband.    She might be called a “royal-in-law” possibly?     But for purposes of this post and on general principles, Pippa is close enough to qualify.

These photos are very enjoyable to look at…beautiful bride, cute and “real” children, and fabulous hats worn by all the women.

These photos are not the usual stiff and perfect photos with everyone in the wedding party,  including the children,  lined up like little soldiers…under orders not to move, cry, make faces, or get dirty.      Obviously just having royal blood in the veins doesn’t make serving as bridesmaids/flowers girls, or page boys, any less trying.   So these candid photos of the wedding party, the children under the herding of Princess Kate for the afternoon.    Riding herd on six little children is not an easy thing to do.

My favorite British Royal of all time was back in the 1930s and 40s when the King of England was George VI, and the young Elizabeth (now the Queen) was a young girl….and her sister Margaret were the princesses.    Princess Margaret was my favorite…she was about six years old (like me at the time) and she was always doing cool stuff like dancing on tables and what not, under the beaming eye of her doting father King George.   Whereas Elizabeth was already being prepared for succession to the throne, Margaret was not under the same rules and expectations of propriety and decorum.

…end of history lesson.